Connecting through culture as we age

In 2022, our Head of Engagement and Social Value, Liam Ronan-Chlond successfully applied to take part in a co-design project with academics, creatives and local older people in Bristol.

The University of Bristol’s ‘Connecting Through Culture As We Age’ project is a partnership between Pervasive Arts and a diverse range of older Bristolians; seeking to explore the challenges and opportunities of ageing in a city like Bristol.

Through a series of workshops, the project fostered conversations and collaborations, between people of all ages and backgrounds, to creatively support the myriad of modern-day lifestyles led by local older people. This covered a range of intersections, such as class, sexuality, gender, accessibility, sustainability and culture.

For instance, we discussed how society could better repair, re-use and recycle, how people could travel the world through global cuisine by hosting themed dinners, and how to shape safe spaces for ageing LGBTQIA+ communities.

Through creative advice and support from experts in the fields of art, engineering, robotics, film and business, we were inspired to begin thinking how we might turn some of these ideas into reality.

Motivated to make an impact, project participants came together to establish several project delivery groups, bidding for funding to turn their ideas into proof of concepts. A few participants, including Liam, have become ‘critical friends’. Acting as ‘helicopters’, they fly in, providing a second opinion and constructive advice on emerging proposals and business plans.

As part of the project, Liam has been supporting a proposal called ‘Recycle City’, a community-led venture promoting the circular economy, reducing waste and supporting more efficient re-use of our local and natural resources.

What was Liam doing there representing a property developer, you might wonder?

Firstly, our approach to engagement knows no bounds! As an investor and developer based in Bristol, we want to support the city. Part of being an active citizen is engaging in local conversations and listening to people from all walks of life. This is how we develop a more holistic understanding of the cities in which we work.

Secondly, as a developer that also delivers retirement communities, the opportunity to engage with local older people and listen to their experiences first hand is extremely valuable. This provides us with vital intelligence on how we shape our future plans for later living.

Commenting on his involvement in the ‘Connecting Through Culture As We Age’ project, Liam says: “I would like to thank Professor Helen Manchester for inviting me to participate in this unique and incredibly energising project. Helen continues to inspire me with her vision of ‘age friendly places’ and the creative role that arts and culture can play in ageing better.

“I look forward to continuing to support the connecting through culture participants with their proposals and to engaging in local conversations about how to shape a better future for all.”

Find out more about the University of Bristol’s ‘Connecting Through Culture As We Age’ project here